Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability. It’s an issue on so many people’s minds. With London a powerhouse of innovation, it’s our duty to become the solution. At Canary Wharf, we’re doing just that. We’re setting goals, partnering with brilliant companies, and winning awards – all in the name of sustainability. As an example of this we recently shared that we have partnered with the Eden Project to help nature thrive in urban environments.
Understanding sustainability terms
When we talk about ‘our fight against climate change’ at Canary Wharf and Vertus, here’s what we’re really saying:
When we say we’re aiming to be net-zero carbon, we mean we’re slashing carbon emissions. How? To do this, we’re designing the efficient buildings, maximising onsite renewables across our Estate, using a fleet of low emission vehicles to transport resources and changing operations to reduce emissions. We have already reduced our Scope 1&2 emissions by 49%. We were the first in our sector to sign The Climate Pledge, co-founded by Amazon, and commit to being net-zero carbon by 2040 evidence how we are working with industry to drive solutions. We’ve taken it one step further by setting approved Science-Based Targets, and a corporate target to achieve net-zero carbon by 2030.
These are energy sources derived from non-fossil sources we can use again and again, then replace naturally – like hydropower, geothermal, wind, solar, and biomass energy from plants or animals. We’re proud that 100% of Canary Wharf Group’s (CWG) electricity has come from renewable sources since 2012. On top of that, we've used more than 30,000 cubic metres of FSC-certified timber. It means we can be confident our timber comes from strictly regulated and responsibly managed forests, or recycled sources. CWG now has 37 FSC-certified buildings to their name.
To explain zero waste, we need to introduce the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. The goal is to create a system where instead of rubbish being thrown away, it becomes a resource. We’ve been applying ‘circular economy’ ideals to our operations for years. On the Estate, coffee grounds are converted to fertiliser for our gardens, food waste is processed and the energy created powers 2,000 London homes, unneeded furniture is donated to charities, and none of our waste from managed areas has been sent to landfill since 2009. Our long-term strategy is to bring all of our resource and recycling management in-house.
Biodiversity is how we measure the variety of genes, species and ecosystems on earth. The air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat all rely on biodiversity – from coral reefs that protect coasts from tsunamis to cancer-fighting fungi that grow on the fur of sloths. The more diverse the wildlife, the more we all benefit.
Canary Wharf has 20 acres of parks, gardens and squares, including the Green Flag status-accredited Jubilee Park – an international certification that rewards well-managed green spaces and wildlife conservation. We’re delighted that a variety of insects, bees, birds and bats have made the Estate their home. They keep our green spaces rich and full by pollinating the flowers, spreading seeds and taking care of pest control.
Our waterways also provide an opportunity for wildlife. In 2020, we installed pontoons and duck houses in the docks to offer safe havens for our feathered friends, adding to the bird boxes, living pillars and bug hotels already available to our other animal tenants.
We’ve learnt that, given the opportunity, Mother Nature will do what she does best, and put everything back into balance. At Canary Wharf, as we develop more sustainable properties, we’ll be there to help her every step of the way.
- What’s the difference between net-zero, carbon neutral and zero carbon?
If you’re net-zero, you take actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of balancing the emissions produced and emissions removed from the atmosphere. Being carbon neutral means you balance those emissions by ‘offsetting’ the same amount produced to match your usage. Where net-zero is the balance between the amount of emitted greenhouse gases and the amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere; so net zero is hit when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.
- What’s the difference between clean energy, green energy and renewable energy?
Clean energy is any energy that doesn’t pollute the atmosphere, the way oil and gas do. Green energy is power generated from natural sources, like wind and water. While renewable energy is from recyclable sources.
- What’s the difference between zero waste and the circular economy?
Zero waste is an approach to business and life that puts value on everything and wastes nothing. Being zero waste means not throwing stuff out. It’s a key part of the circular economy, which encourages us to reuse and remake.
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